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BaT Alumni Gathering: June 25 in Seattle at The Shop – REGISTRATION IS CLOSED!
June 25, 2022
PVGP Schenley Park Race Weekend
July 23 - 24, 2022
Lake Tahoe Wooden Boat Concours d’Elegance
August 12 - 14, 2022
BaT Alumni Gathering – WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca During Car Week
August 20, 2022
BaT Alumni Gathering – The Shop in Texas
September 17, 2022
BaT Auction Success Story: Red Rover, New Owner
While out on a walk with my wife on New Year’s Day, we ran into our neighbors. As we talked, they advised us that in their Chinese culture 2022 was a special year known as “The Year of the Tiger.” We didn’t totally know what that entailed, but we took it as inspiration, and dubbed 2022 “The Year of Yes.” Perhaps it was because we’d been trapped in the house with three kids under 10 for the better part of two years thanks to COVID, but we decided that this year we’d focus on living our best life in the moment. Enter a BaT auction for a 1965 Land Rover 88 Series IIA…
A while back, we purchased a Ferrari 308GT4 on BaT while out in California to attend the Rose Bowl, and penned a Success Story about our experience. We’ve greatly enjoyed the Ferrari and still have it. Since then, I’d come close to buying other vehicles on BaT, but hadn’t pulled the trigger for one reason or another. Although not very knowledgeable about Series Land Rovers, I felt like I learned more and more each time from the great discussions on BaT (of course, I am aware that I still only know just enough to be dangerous). I will be forever grateful to all those BaT members who share their knowledge so willingly without a hint of condescension. Anyway, I first saw my future 1965 Series IIA on BaT in late February located in Key West, Florida. After speaking with the seller a few times, I fell hard for his truck. It is a rare NAS station wagon model originally delivered in red and still on its factory frame. The seller had acquired it 10 years earlier from a neighbor, whose father had bought the vehicle new. I could tell it had been well cared for and it came with paperwork dating back to its original purchase. Other than a repaint and some modifications made by the original owner, it was largely as it arrived back in 1965. It still shows the factory spot welds and had just enough dings and signs of use that I wasn’t going to worry about my kids climbing all over it. Cars that I generally get interested in are very original and have a cool history. This one definitely fit the bill.
I live in Georgia, so I also liked the fact that the SIIA was located in Key West. Perhaps inspired by the “Oddball Cannonball” story a week or so prior, I had it in my head that I would fly down and drive the vehicle back, at least part of the way. We were already scheduled to spend Spring Break in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, for a week in early April (about seven hours north of Key West).
A shoutout to my loving, understanding wife here – I purchased the vehicle without telling her, which was not cool on my part and she was initially (and rightfully) pissed. But we made up and I promised to never do it again, and by Tuesday night, we had hatched a plan over a bottle of wine to retrieve the Land Rover. We would fly down that Thursday night, pick up the vehicle, and drive it back to Miami where we would leave it in a pay lot at the airport, or in Islamorada where we could stash it in a friend’s driveway. I would then drive down from New Smyrna Beach in my wife’s Yukon a few weeks later and we would trailer it back to Georgia. The Land Rover has a top speed of 55 mph (downhill), so there was never any thought of driving it all the way back to Georgia on the Interstate (although I did consider a longer adventure up the coast on A1A, which I may still undertake). Our A-Team babysitter (a retired schoolteacher) happened to be available, and our plans put us back home first thing on Saturday morning for kids’ activities – a quick trip for sure.
Let me start by giving kudos to 1965SIIANADA and his wife. They could not have been more accommodating. He is a private owner, not a dealer, and was very concerned with describing the vehicle accurately, imperfections and all. He was so flexible when making arrangements for delivery, and even offered us a place to stay that night – they live a block or two from the main drag in Key West in a cool old house with a small guesthouse. We ended up staying with them and had a great time that night. Within five minutes of arrival, I had a beer in my hand. The vehicle looked even better in person. In my humble opinion, the simple design of these trucks is jaw-droppingly beautiful, especially in red. The seller gave me a tutorial, and the truck fired up quicker than my 2016 Range Rover (which also has push-button start). We became fast friends and the seller took time to educate me about the pleasures of fine rums, which I knew nothing about but now love. By the end of the night, I told them that if they ever sell anything else, a lawn mower, weed whacker, whatever, I wanted to be called first and I’d come down personally to pick it up. I can’t say enough good things about these folks and the experience we had. I was even told that the seller had taken the day off of work to wash and wax the vehicle prior to delivery.
We headed out late the next morning after touring the marina and getting a great breakfast at a corner café. In the Land Rover, the double-clutch shift from first to second took some getting used to. The first few times I tried it, the car had come to a stop before I found second. By the third try, I got the hang of it, and had no troubles thereafter. We drove for four hours – the surroundings were beautiful and there was just enough traffic and enough double lanes that I didn’t feel like I was slowing anyone up. We stopped to admire the scenery along the way. I’ll remember the details of that morning for a long time.
We made it to Islamorada and stopped for lunch at a place recommended by friends. As I pulled into a spot in the gravel parking lot, the SIIA stalled. I have limited mechanical skills, but had checked the oil and knew it was running at a comfortable temperature. I hoped that maybe it just needed a rest (or missed its previous owner) and that after lunch any issue would have solved itself. So we had a great lunch at a table on the beach.
But after lunch, the vehicle still would not start. The starter and battery were strong, but no luck. We had planned to drive to Miami and leave the vehicle in a pay lot near the airport. We had a flight out the next morning at 7 a.m. It was now close to 3 p.m. and we were still about 90 minutes away. I called a buddy and we walked through the two potential sources of the issue, either gas or spark. I put some gas in the top of the carb, and we were able to rule that out. I also called the seller just to make sure I wasn’t forgetting to hit some magic switch. He could not have felt worse and worked with us to troubleshoot the problem. Frankly, in a weird way, I was kind of enjoying working through the problem and wasn’t that troubled by it. Eventually we figured out it wasn’t getting spark. We had decided it was likely the coil, as any other likely culprits had recently been replaced . Luckily, we were only a mile from my friend’s house and I had the vehicle towed to his driveway, where I had originally contemplated leaving it anyway. I was getting tired, and had no tools or spare parts anyway. It was now five o’clock or so. I found some logs to chock the wheels and threw on the cover. Throughout the day, we had been stopped by people admiring the vehicle and wanting to know about it. Our tow truck driver took a bunch of photos so his buddies could see what he got to tow. While our friends weren’t at their Islamorada house, we got the hidden key and sat out back on their deck drinking their beer and watching the sun set. We cleaned up and made arrangements for a driver to pick us up and take us to our hotel room in Miami. It was a great day, notwithstanding. We were home the next morning.
Cut to a few weeks later: with the SIIA safely tucked away at our friends’ place in Islamorada, we set out from Braselton, Georgia, to New Smyrna Beach for Spring Break. We loaded up the Yukon with our three kids and a lot of stuff and pushed off early on Saturday. I made arrangements to rent a trailer in Islamorada and headed south on Monday morning. I had ordered a coil from Rovers North, and bought some extra wire and fasteners as well as the internals for the distributor. I also had my toolbox. I got to my buddy’s house in Islamorada around 11:30, and this time my friends were there, anxious to see what was under the tarp.
This is where the story takes a somewhat comical karmic turn. Despite my limited mechanical skills, I know enough that the two best tools for diagnosing issues are a circuit tester and a can of starter fluid. I got my circuit tester out and within minutes realized that the wire from the distributor to the coil was bad. We replaced the wire and it started right up. Problem solved in, like, 10 minutes. We loaded the truck onto the trailer and I made the seven-hour drive back after lunch. The whole family was waiting for me as I pulled in. My lovely wife even had champagne. You can see how excited my kids were in the photos below. They climbed all over it and loved the back seats. We enjoyed the SIIA all week, with my daughters and me making early morning bagel and donut runs.
I was hesitant to take the SIIA onto the beach, at first. I half-jokingly told my wife that if any Land Rover enthusiast saw it parked on the beach, I would have a lot of explaining to do (and might even be banned from BaT). After a few days, however, the family won out. I cannot tell you the number of head turns, thumbs-up, etc. we got while driving it on the beach. Three people tried to buy it from me. So much fun. While it was parked in the sand, I ended up meeting another SIIA owner driving his ’65 (photo below). I jokingly told him of my fear of driving it on the beach, and he laughed and told me to just hose it off real good. Looking at his vehicle and talking with him, I saw some additional mods I may want to make in the future – 16” wheels and tires, painted rear mud flaps, galvanized bumpers, overdrive, etc. But I also like knowing that the way it is currently is how the original owner modified it and I respect that. I will likely overhaul the winch and leave it on the truck.
Eventually the week came to an end, and we put the SIIA back on the trailer and towed it home. I learned that these vehicles weren’t meant to go 70 mph, even on the back of a trailer. When we made our first stop, I noticed that the wind had picked up the safari roof and had pulled out some of the rivets and hardware. I had to strap it down to get it home. Expensive lesson learned and now I’ll have to figure out how to get that fixed. Regardless, my family and I are enjoying the heck out of this thing. It is the go-to vehicle for brunch, karate lessons, driving around town, etc. We get stopped everywhere we go. My eight-year-old son did mention to me that the next car I buy better not be a slow one, but I think slow cars rule!
Thanks again to BaT, the sellers, and especially my loving and patient wife. We will cherish this adventure, and the SIIA will be a member of the family for a long time!